Four years ago when Brandy Metcalf, of Wake Forest, N.C., was pregnant with her third child, she and her husband Dave decided they should make some adjustments in the household to make more room for the new baby.
So they reluctantly came up with the idea to allow Brandy's sister, Chelsee, to dogsit their beloved border collie mix, Cassey, in Charlotte, N.C. while they had a newborn crawling around the house.
The dogsitting idea turned into a four year odyssey for Cassey and what seems like a miracle for the Metcalfs.
"We just had our third child and we live in a small three bedroom, so it was close quarters with baby stuff. We were just trying to give the newborn the attention she needs," Metcalf told ABC News. "My sister was living alone in Charlotte and she's not good at being alone and she's known Cassey, so she got a roommate while we got past the newborn stage."
Metcalf said she called her sister every couple of weeks to check in on Cassey until her sister told her to calm down and reassured her dog was doing just fine in her new, temporary home.
So Metcalf let a few months pass without visiting the dog. It wasn't until six months later that she drove to Charlotte to see Cassey.
"I get there and open the car door and poor Cassey didn't coming running to the car door like she normally does," Metcalf said.
Right away, Metcalf knew something wasn't right. Her sister told her she had some upsetting news, but didn't have the guts to tell her earlier.
"There was a lot going on at the house one day. Cassey is very intuitive about big noises and is very sensitive when it comes to sounds. Something startled her," and Cassey had bolted, Metcalf said.
They searched for Cassey for several days, but weren't having any luck.
"It being in a different city I felt like I really had no hope, no chance of being able to find her. She's such a wonderful animal with a great personality. I knew if anyone new came in contact with her, they'd want to keep her," said Metcalf.
As more time passed without any sign of the dog, the Metcalf family tried to move on to fill the void Cassey had left.
"If we didn't think about it, maybe it wouldn't hurt so much. So we really tried to bring in other animals to take up the love we had for her. We've had guinea pigs, cats and everything else. But it never seemed the right animal fit," Metcalf said.
Even four years later, Metcalf's children would still mention Cassey, saying they'd do anything to have the dog back.
Then on Sept. 11, the family received a phone call that someone had found Cassey.
"Of course we couldn't believe that. We were so used to thinking that couldn't possibly be our dog," said Metcalf.
But as soon as the family was in touch with Cheryl and Scott Smith, the Charlotte, N.C., couple who had taken Cassey under their wing three days earlier, they knew they had finally found their long-lost pooch.
"We gave scars and descriptions to confirm it was really her. We didn't hesitate, we were on the road the next day," Metcalf said.
Cassey had lost seven pounds, had no collar and was covered in fleas, Metcalf said.
Elated at the news, the Metcalfs couldn't be more thankful to the Smith's for taking good care of her, and being persistent enough to track down the original owners.
"Once they spent a little time with her they knew she had come from a family. You could just tell. So they started taking her to the dog parks in Charlotte, taking her to the vet," Metcalf said.
The Smith's refused to leave the vet until Cassey's entire body was scanned for a microchip. They knew the friendly dog must have been chipped as a puppy, and was convinced it was on her somewhere. And they were right. The chip had migrated from the normal spot behind the neck, down under ribs.
Although the microchip's information was 11 years outdated from when the puppy was chipped at the Wake County SPCA, the Smith's were able to track down the correct information.
"I bent down and said 'Cassey girl' and she came right over to us. She knows exactly where she is now. She goes right to her same spot. I mean she has not changed any of those aspects," Metcalf said. "This house, the tears that were falling in this house, all of us were just in disbelief. The Smith's are such wonderful people. Something we cared about so much came back to us."